Finding good employees can be time-consuming and expensive, so it only makes sense that you would want to keep great workers around for the long haul.
If a quality worker has ever exited your business, then you probably understand the vacuum that can be left in their wake. Suddenly, work is completed more slowly, roles get more complicated, and there can be a general air of chaos that’s hard to settle down.
While it may be unpleasant to consider, you may have more of a role in these resignations than you realize. There are many things you may be doing that are essentially writing your best employees’ two weeks’ notice.
My experience as both an employee and a manager has taught me a few things that will undoubtedly chase away your best employees if you’re not careful.
Tolerating below average work
If your best employees are putting in the hours and are consistently performing high-quality work, you need to make them aware that you notice them. Giving all your employees—even the workers who aren’t putting in the requisite effort—with the same perks, bonuses, and other incentives can stir resentment among your best employees; they will feel unappreciated if it seems like their hard work is irrelevant and has gone unnoticed.
On top of that, unhappy employees can bring down the business as a whole and the individuals around them. Allowing a poor work ethic to permeate in the office will drive away those who seek success.
Sticking good employees on a dead-end path
Good employees are usually diligent workers looking for some kind of upward mobility. If they can’t see a clear path that will lead them toward greater things in your company, then they likely will look elsewhere for employment. Punishing them for good performance, or “rewarding” them with more work for doing a good job, is a great way to encourage them to start looking for another place to work.
You can’t expect to retain good employees in their current positions forever. Be sure to let them know that you have plans for their future at the company. Not only will this help them feel more secure, but it will signal to them that you appreciate their work enough to put them in line for a promotion.
Engaging in discriminatory business practices
One surefire way to chase away your best employees is to engage in discrimination of any kind. This includes paying women or minorities less for equivalent or better work. Despite protections against discrimination in the workplace, most people do not file claims against employers and instead leave the company and find work elsewhere.
Of course, this discrimination may not be purposeful, but it may be a good thing to identify how much you pay one group of people vs. another. If you find a discrepancy, try to fix it, or risk losing star workers to a more progressive company.
Fostering a boring and unchallenging work environment
High-quality employees aren’t going to be comfortable with monotony in their jobs. If they come to the office every day expecting to do exactly what they’ve done every other day, then they will have little enthusiasm. Good employees need to be inspired and challenged so they feel like their skills are being fully utilized.
If you see the passion draining from a good employee’s work, talk to them. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them feel more challenged. If not, they may end up performing their best for a different company.
Having too many restrictions
If your company has overly harsh punishments or too-strict dress codes, this will turn people against your company really quick. Rules are valuable for any workplace, but if your employees are feeling constrained, they may look for freedom outside the company.
You also should ensure that company rules don’t get in the way of your employees’ passions. It’s easy to feel caged in if your ideas are routinely met with a “that’s not how we do things around here” memo. Allow your employees to pursue projects that they believe will be best for the company.
If you want your business to succeed, you need good employees. But good employees aren’t necessarily beholden to you. They can seek out greener pastures whenever they feel like it, and if you’re fostering a stressful and unfair work environment, they’ll be more likely to do just that.